Diabetes is a chronic condition that happens when the body cannot make enough insulin, or use insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas allowing the glucose from food to enter the bodyís cells, where it is converted into energy for muscles and tissues. A person with diabetes cannot absorb glucose properly, resulting in the glucose circulating in the blood. This damages tissues over time and can lead to very serious health complications and diseases of the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, legs and nerves. There are three types of diabetes:
Type 1: This is caused by an autoimmune reaction. The body's defense system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, resulting in the body no longer producing the needed insulin. Most often occurs in children or young adults. Injections of insulin are needed to control blood glucose levels.
Type 2: The body is able to produce insulin but it is not sufficient or the body is not responding to its effects. This leads to a build-up of glucose in the blood. This is the most common type of diabetes. It most often occurs in adults, but it is also seen in children and adolescents.
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM): The body is unable to make and use enough insulin needed for pregnancy. Women are first diagnosed during the pregnancy.
Diabetes is best managed by maintaining blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol close to normal levels. This is the key to avoiding complications and discomfort. Other ways to manage diabetes include exercise, choosing healthy foods, checking blood sugar and cholesterol, quitting smoking, getting regular eye, foot, kidney and dental exams, taking an annual flu shot, and getting personal counseling to learn coping skills.
Here are 10 great websites providing free information on diabetes:
American Dietetic Association: Find comprehensive information and resources on food labels, healthy eating for kids, reviews of popular diet plans, eating plans, and more. http://www.diabetes.org
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